It was at Modifyre in 2015 that I first donated my time to the Burner community as a Ranger.
I'd been approached by one of the organisers and asked how I was contributing to the event, which led to being allocated a shift on the Friday night.
When the time came my son was pacing around our campsite and clearly not ready to sleep, so I took him with me. It turned out to be a great decision as after our shift 'ranger-ing' he had completely changed his attitude toward Modifyre from "When are we going home?" to "Can we be Rangers again on Saturday night?"
The Lead Ranger on our first shift was Wonka, who had experience in the role from Burning Seed. He welcomed us and explained the role was primarily one that focused on duty-of-care. We walked around the event and kept an eye on ensuring that people behaved safely, while keeping in contact via two-way radio to report our observations and answer calls.
At Modifyre in 2016 I returned to ranger-ing and went through the training program that Koi and Girlface developed, as well as hearing more about the role from Platypus and Decker. It was surprisingly pleasing to hear my son introduce himself at the training session for first-time rangers as "the inaugural Modfiyre Junior Ranger" and receive applause.
Getting out and about on the paddock means we get to meet lots of people, who are generally appreciative that we're giving time to ensure their safety. I got called "fun police" when one person didn't like being reminded to stay behind a safety barrier at a burn but otherwise it was all positive.
The other thing I like is having a radio. It becomes part of the soundtrack to the event. It's one that's like accessing a director's commentary on a DVD as you hear about the behind-the-scenes activity. The insights provided are largely positive and, if there is something of concern, it's good to feel in-the-know and assist.
While I understand why some burn events may decide that Junior Rangers are not suited to the role, I think there is scope to develop a program for them. My eldest son is not yet a teen but has shown himself to be very effective at maintaining the safety perimeter for burns, as well as in the educational roles of informing campsites about their obligation to 'leave no trace'.
I'd like to see Burning Seed develop a Junior Ranger program that provides a highly visible hat to kids who, while accompanied by a responsible adult, undertake roles in promoting Burner principles and in maintaining the outer perimeter of burns.